International Man of Mystery...

My photo
I grew up in the Boston area and lived there until my junior year in high school when I attended the Mountain School, a semester program run by Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. I then attended Colby College in Waterville, ME. During my time at Colby I studied anthropology, spent a semester in Northeast India, and became fluent in Nepali. Before I became a guide I earned my black belt in kenpo karate and taught karate for 6 years. I began guiding in college on the rocky coast of ME with Acadia Mountain Guides and on ice at the International Mountain Climbing School in NH. After graduating I took to the highway and drove from ME to WA for the big mountains and glaciers. I spend my winters in lovely Ouray, CO guiding in the famous ice park. I am currently working towards becoming a certified guide through the American Mountain Guides Association. I live, work and play in the hills and on the rocks. On the rocks both literally and, well, with ice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Enroute to Aconcagua

I guess the most exciting thing right now is the wireless in the Santiago airport. The flights have been relatively painless. I even got a whole row to myself from Dallas to here! It is strange the way that time stretches and compresses while traveling. Yeaterday and today are blurred together. I board for Mendoza soon and look forward to a nice malbec and a steak wit my Scottish co-guide Stuart. Sorry I don't have any cool photos to post, yet.....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gravity's Rainbow: Know When to Say No

I prefer to blog about successfully climbing the great ice climbs of the San Juans. However, not every climb can be a success. Today Hannah and I bailed off the top of pitch 1 of Gravity's Rainbow. This was quite disappointing since we got up at 4:45am to start climbing at first light. This south facing classic gets so much sun it rarely forms. Some years it never forms at all. The back to back cold snaps we had with overcast snowy weather in between allowed this incredible 4-5 pitches of WI5 to form this year.

The route saw several ascents as recently as a few days ago. I was working while it was in its prime but took the first opportunity to give it a go. The above freezing sunny weather of the last few days detached 70% or so of the first pitch of ice from the rock. Though the steep sections seemed solid the easier ice was very insecure and barely over an inch thin. In places this raised shell of ice broke away entirely leaving bare wet rock below. Most protection was suspect at best.

I set my last 2 ice screws for an anchor in ice I was not sure was attached to the rock. The ice itself however seemed more solid than everything else around and the screws seemed solid. Still, I stomped a solid stance and belayed Hannah directly off my harness to minimize the force on the anchor.

Needless to say we didn't like it and I lowered Hannah and free-solo down climbed to a rock to rappel off. There was some good ice above us but there was also lots more junky ice especially at the tops of the steeper sections. Maybe it would have gone fine but then again maybe not. I don't regret our decision for a second, I only hope it forms up well again soon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ice Climbing Progression

I recently had the pleasure of spending 3 days working with Steve and Mitch. They were on a father-son trip to Ouray to learn to ice climb. As an ice climbing instructor it is important to me to not only show guests a great time but to lay out a logical progression over multiple days. I strive to make each day challenging and educational and have each day build on the previous day's skills. By the end of a few days it is a joy to watch my guests make their way up Ouray's ultra classic ice climbs and say to themselves with a smile "I can't believe I did that!"

Steve, Mitch, and I spent a day in the Ouray Ice Park learning the fundamentals of ice climbing and laying the groundwork for the next two days. Day two we took on some small multi pitch climbs up camp bird road and practiced ascending and descending multiple pitches. Our final day took us to Ouray's famous ice climb The Ribbon. Steve and Mitch were lucky to climb this rarely forming classic. It was, in San Juan Mountain Guides owner Clint Cook's view, a proud tick. Hopefully it was a father-son trip Steve and Mitch will cherish for a long time to come.